| NEW YORK, April 7
NEW YORK, April 7 Several major U.S. studios
filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on Monday against the
file-sharing website Megaupload and its ebullient founder, Kim
Megaupload, which U.S. authorities shuttered in 2012,
facilitated a "massive copyright infringement of movies and
television shows," according to a statement issued by the Motion
Picture Association of America on Monday.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, all MPAA members, are
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, Disney Enterprises Inc,
Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Productions, Columbia
Pictures and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.
"Megaupload wasn't a cloud storage service at all, it was an
unlawful hub for mass distribution," Steven Fabrizio, an
attorney for the MPAA, said in the statement.
U.S. authorities allege Megaupload cost film studios and
record companies more than $500 million and generated more than
$175 million by encouraging paying users to store and share
copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.
Dotcom says Megaupload was merely an online warehouse and
should not be held accountable if stored content was obtained
Monday's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Virginia, said Dotcom and other defendants
"profited handsomely" by providing thousands of copyrighted
works over the Internet to millions of Megaupload users without
authorization or license.
Movies whose copyrights Megaupload infringed, according to
the lawsuit, include Avatar, Forrest Gump and Transformers,
according to the lawsuit.
Commenting on Twitter on Monday, Dotcom said U.S.
authorities "probably demanded" that the studios file the
lawsuit "because they initiated this ... Hollywood science
fiction script of a case. Embarrassing."
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages as well as
attorney's fees. It claims the studios are entitled to
Megaupload's profits and up to $150,000 per infringement.
The lawsuit comes as Dotcom is fighting a bid by U.S.
authorities to extradite him from New Zealand to face online
piracy charges over the now-closed website. He is also known as
Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, according to the lawsuit.
Dotcom's U.S. attorney Ira Rothken said that Monday's suit
was a way for the country's film industry to go after Megaupload
if the U.S. Department of Justice fails to extradite Dotcom and
his colleagues to the United States from New Zealand. An
extradition hearing is scheduled for July.
"The MPAA is suddenly realizing that we're a few months away
from the extradition hearing, and once Kim Dotcom and the others
prevail in the extradition hearing they'll have more resources
and more assets," Rothken told Reuters.
"The MPAA wants to have cover if the Department of Justice
fails in the extradition and the criminal case."
He predicted that the judge in the civil suit would likely
stay the case pending the extradition hearing, adding that
Megaupload will also seek access to evidence stored on its
servers housed in Virginia to defend against the suit. Dotcom
has been denied access to that evidence for the extradition
Meanwhile, the legal storm has not stopped Dotcom, a German
national with New Zealand residency, from delving into politics,
launching a party last month to contest New Zealand's general
election in September. [ID: nL4N0MN4W9]
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Additional reporting by Naomi
Tajitsu; Editing by Ken Wills)